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80s New Wave Bands

by Kim

This is a blog about the bands of the 1980s New Wave and post-punk era, especially those that have been neglected by rock music historians.  The 80s and 90s are often described as an “80s” or “New Wave” decade in musical history, but much of that popularity was due to the popularity of acts such as Duran Duran and Culture Club in the late 80s.  While there have been a number of articles written about those bands, less attention was made to other influential new wave bands. Here are three new wave bands that you should consider putting in mind.

Rock Division

A band formed in 1985 by school friends Mel Martin and Derek Barry, who had played together since they were small boys. They began playing gigs and recording demo tapes until 1988 when they released their first single “Take Me Home”. The song was a hit in their native Australia, but was only released internationally on CD under different names. Mel Martin says that they were the first punk band to emerge in Australia. In 1989, they released their debut album “The Sound Of The Sinners”. The band was signed by the Australian label WEA and went on to release two more albums, “Lunacy” (1989) and “Hard Rock” (1990). Their final album was released in 1992, called “Breakout”, it featured re-recordings of some of the bands earlier hits. After the break up of Rock Division, Martin and Barry formed a new rock band named ‘Shark’, which released a single before disbanding.


Fugazi was formed by Ian MacKaye and Joe Lally in Washington, DC in 1987. Their style of music was very loud, fast punk rock. The band is best known for their grindcore/hardcore fused songs “Waiting Room”, “Waiting Room” & “Turnover” as well as their last song, “End Hits”. The band’s first album was released in 1988 under the name ‘Minor Threat’ and was titled ‘Suffer’. The album featured the singles ‘Straight Edge’, ‘Surprise!’ and ‘(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville’. The band changed their name to ‘Fugazi’ in 1991, and released their second album “Check Your Head”. This was a huge hit and the album is still played today by many bands. They went on to release three more albums before Ian MacKaye decided it was time for the band to end.


The band was formed in the early 80’s by Milo Aukerman and Karl Alvarez. The name of the band came from a song by The Descendents which had the same title. The first band was formed in the early 80’s but disbanded after a few years, and then the band reformed in 1986. Their first album featured the track “That’s What I Get” which was released as a single. The song reached number one on both MTV and AOR radio stations. After this success, more tracks were written by the band including “I’m Not Jesus”. Another great track that came out of their first album was “My Best Friends In Hackensack”. Their second album was released in 1989 under the title ” Milo Goes To College”, it featured a cover version of Kiss’ song ‘All Hell’s Breaking Loose’. This led to Triple J describing them as an outstanding cover band, this helped them gain notoriety from playing many shows around the country.

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